Story at a glance

  • Beverage market leader Coca-Cola will not cut out their single-use plastic bottles, citing customers prefer the packaging.
  • Coca-Cola contributes significant amounts of plastic waste to the planet, up to 3 million tons per year.
  • Company executives say they are looking for more sustainable packaging and alternatives, including recycling.

Despite all the recent attention on the plastic trash crisis, soda and beverage titan Coca-Cola has said it won’t abandon plastic bottles because its consumers still like them. 

Coca-Cola’s Head of Sustainability, Bea Perez, spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and said that customers like the standard plastic packaging because it is resealable and lightweight.

Perez said the company — earning more than $40 billion dollars in annual revenue — is open to some sustainable initiatives, but stated that “business won’t be in business if we don’t accommodate consumers.”

The company has pledged to use a minimum of 50 percent recycled materials in its packaging by 2030, and is partnering with environmental nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to improve recycling collection. 

Per James Quincy, Coca-Cola’s global chief executive, the company is working on recycling, and 9 percent of its packaging is made from post-consumer waste. Quincy also debuted to BBC a plastic Coke bottle that’s 25 percent made from plastic retrieved from the ocean. 

Coke has a lot to offset, however; the conglomerate produces approximately 3 million tons of plastic packaging a year, resulting in more than 100 billion plastic bottles. It was also branded the top polluting brand in a global audit of plastic waste conducted by the nonprofit Break Free From Plastic

Perez went on to say that “as we [the Coca-Cola company] change our bottling infrastructure, move into recycling and innovate, we also have to show the consumer what the opportunities are. They will change with us.”

Amid questions about her own resignation if the company does not meet its sustainability goals, Perez only replied thatWe have to reach this goal and we will — there's no question.”

 

Published on Jan 22, 2020